With the news we may be signing a 4 game contract with UCONN, I wanted to look at what we have done in recent history and what is booked in the future and see if it achieves what I see as OOC goals. For me, the goals in scheduling OOC games should be:
- Money games
- Games that will help with recruiting
- Games that will be convenient for alumni
- Showcase games against teams in conferences we would make want to join
- Given our lack of a real rival in the MAC, games against teams we have some history against
- A realistic chance at getting 2 wins in OOC play
To the last goal, for me, this does not mean scheduling FCS games per se. I will be honest, I am not a big of FCS games as there is no upside other than getting a home game. As we saw with the Albany game a few years ago, a loss can set you up for a real bad year. I would much rather schedule a weak G5 team than an FCS team.
I love seeing the Penn St and Ohio St games, prestigious names fan and recruits love to see. A loss is not the end of the world and who knows maybe we win one someday. In the next two years we have Kansas St and Nebraska, other than the money, I am not sure what these games get us. KSU is usually good but not really a recruiting area for us and doubt there is much alumni base in KS. Nebraska is not what it used to be but still Big 10 and more name recognition than KSU but not a recruiting area for us. Mizzu in 2024, well it is an SEC game but I would put it in the same bucket as the KSU game.
I get that getting on a P5 schedule may be easier said than done but I liked the Rutgers game. Very close to the NYC area alumni base and a winnable Big 10 game. Looking forward, we have Maryland in 2022, should be a tougher game than Rutgers but could be winnablish. These are games in NJ and MD, both areas we have successfully recruited. I am fine with the BC game from a few years ago as I would bet there is a decent alumni base in Boston and if you catch BC on the right year a winnablish game. When looking at schedules, went back to 2014 where we planned Baylor. I will take almost any P5 home and home deal.
Going forward, I am happy with any Big 10 game (except NE as noted above) but would like to see a push for some ACC games too. I trust SU will not play us but that would be a good game. Games in FL should be good from recruiting so I would be happy to see Miami and FSU. North Carolina has seen a lot of relocation from the northeast so there should be some alumni there and an area worth recruiting. ACC is not the strongest P5 football conference and any given year Duke, NC State, NC and Wake could be winnablish with a good UB team. I know we have played Pitt in the past and would be a game I would like to see again.
Outside of Temple, we have not and are not scheduling AAC teams. Maybe it is a case where AAC teams do not see the benefit to play an improving MAC team, after all the last two games did not work out well for Temple. That said, I love Temple on the schedule as it meets most of my goals (I would rather a money push home and home but would take getting paid to only play there). We have history with Temple and if we ever end up in the same conference again we could be as much of a rival for Temple than anyone else in the AAC (personally I think the Big 12 will raid the AAC in the next round of realignment so who knows what the AAC will look like after 2024 or so). Cincinnati is a team I would like to see on the schedule as it is within our recruiting footprint. Similar to the ACC discussion, the AAC has teams in FL and NC worth scheduling. For recruiting, playing in Texas can’t hurt and on the right year, Houston and SMU could be winnable.
History and a chance to get two OOC wins
As much as playing the triple option is painful I love the Army games, in state and most years a good test but winnable. I would like to think our program is moving strongly enough in the right direction that this game should be a win more often than not. I would be happy to offer some type of deal to Charlotte if they want another shot at us in the wake of our bowl win. I honestly do not know what will become of both UMASS and UCONN as independents. They are basketball schools and have their non football conferences leaving the football teams as orphans. I am not sure if they can economically survive as a low tier G5 independent football program long term. If they can stay FBS I like all the games we have scheduled. If as I expect they continue to struggle, I will take a weak FBS game over an FCS and both schools have some history and in a reasonable drive for a lot of alumni. Maybe we can get the odd basketball game out of any future deals.
Good recruiting locations and winnable games
Texas and Florida are strong recruiting area where we do not play that often. I would like to see more G5 home and home with schools in these states. C-USA has FAU (a little history with them) and FIU in FL and Rice, North TX, UTSA and UTEP (had a home and home with them in the late ‘00s) in Texas. These are very MAC like games in terms of competitiveness, which could be worth more than blowing out an FCS team or getting killed by a P5 team as preparation for MAC play. Sun Belt offers a few interesting options like Southern GA and GA St in Georgia, not a bad place to recruit, as well as Texas St in TX and Coastal Carolina in SC. Again, these would be MAC like games in good recruiting areas. As for the already scheduled games with Old Dominion and Liberty we get some exposure in Virginia. Liberty seems to strike a nerve with some of the fan base, if that can be channeled into caring deeply about winning the game, I see that as a good thing.
As I said, not a big fan but I understand they are needed to get home games to offset the money games. In situations like next year where we have two money games AND our G5 game is on the road an FCS games makes a lot of sense. I am not completely opposed to the occasional year were we only have 5 home games, assuming that means two money games, but would understand if season ticket holders object. Since we will have FCS games, I prefer FCS games that will bring a little more passion. The risk is higher for a loss but you can expect Albany and Stony Brook to come in wanting to knock us off. That said, there should be more student interest in keeping the other SUNY schools in their place than there would be playing schools like Colgate. If we can bundle an FCS home football game with a quality road basketball game I would be all for that.
I am generally okay with what has been done with the OOC recently. If UMASS and UCONN can survive as FBS independents I am quite happy with what is scheduled as it is achieving many of the goals. I may not be saying anything the AD does not already know but was just looking at teams I would like to see.